Does Pre-Workout Break A Fast? 

Medically reviewed by Dr Dimitar Marinov

You put a lot of time and effort into intermittent fasting, and it’s great to have something within the parameters of the fasting discipline that you can take to give you enough energy to make it through until you get to eat. Pre-workouts can do just that, but does a pre-workout break your fast? 

Continue reading to find out all you need to know about pre-workout and its effects on fasting. Let’s go!

What does it mean to break a fast?

Fasting involves alternating your cycles of eating and fasting according to the type of fasting, cycle length and calorie limits you’ve set. While everyone fasts when they sleep, fasting can be any increased periods of time between eating. 

Breaking a fast is when you break the hormonal pattern associated with fasting, which could be different from person to person. Some consider even a small change in insulin secretion, and other hormones like cortisol, ghrelin and IGF-1 can break a fast. 

Others see fasting as a preferential and is not something that can just be switched on and off. Due to this foresight, many of the psychological effects of starvation occur when your calories are being restricted significantly or when you consume small doses of calories, like what you get in a pre-workout supplement. 

What are the benefits of fasting?

Fasting has become a popular technique that boosts the body’s ability to burn fat, and besides the weight goals, there is an onslaught of other health benefits that come with fasting. These include the maintenance of blood sugar and cholesterol levels as well as an emotional enhancement, but more research needs to be filed in order to more accurately present the benefits with a full risk assessment. Fasting is great, but it’s not perfect for everyone.

Different fasting periods also have their different benefits:

Short-term fasting period (less than 24 hours)

  • Can improve insulin sensitivity 
  • Can reduce inflammation 

Long-term fasting period

  • Can trigger autophagy (the process of cellular repair)
  • Can promote weight loss

What is pre-workout?

A pre-workout is a dietary supplement that has specifically been formulated to help you improve your athletic performance through different mechanisms that include bolstering your blood flow, endurance, cognitive function, muscle strength, mental focus and energy levels. These are achieved thanks to the foundational ingredients used in many pre-workout supplements, including amino acids, stimulants and nitric oxide precursors.

Pre-workout ingredients and 

The ingredients in a pre-workout give you various benefits. Most pre-workout supplements contain only a minimal amount of calories and so aren’t considered to break a fast. Here are the most common ingredients used in preworkouts and whether or not they would cause you to break a fast.

Caffeine is a popular stimulant that can enhance many aspects of exercise performance as well as improve focus and supercharge your energy. Caffeine by itself doesn’t contain any nutrients and calories that could break a fast. 

Betaine is an ingredient that is generally safe to use while fasting as it lacks a significant amount of calories that would break a fast.

BCAA/EEAs (Branched-chain amino acids) can contain calories, but a single serving usually has too small amounts to break a fast as long as the total amount of proteins and carbs is less than 50 kcal.

Creatine is the ingredient that helps you gain lean muscle mass and, in itself, is calorie-free and, therefore, doesn’t affect insulin and won’t break a fast.

Citrulline malate is a brilliant ingredient to incorporate into your diet when fasting as it delays muscle fatigue and enhances your endurance, strength and recovery. This amino acid should not break a fast.

Beta-alanine is the endurance-increasing, fatigue-reducing non-essential amino acid that is completely safe to use while fasting as it does not cause an insulin response and does not break a fast. 

L-Theanine is what is known as a non-protein amino acid and is generally safe to consume while fasting as it does not cause a significant insulin response and shouldn’t break your fast.

Sugar is usually used in the form of glucose or dextrose and is another ingredient that can provide quick bursts of energy and can cause an insulin response because of the calories and nutrients present in it; it has the ability to break a fast and should be avoided if you want to maintain a state of fasting. 

Non-calorie sweeteners have not yet been decided on whether they will break a fast as of yes and need further research as people who use artificial sweeteners don’t recall having their fast affected by using them. However, if you’re concerned about it breaking your fast, it would be best to er on the side of caution and avoid taking sweeteners while fasting.

How many calories are in a pre-workout?

Ultimately, for a pre-workout to be safe to use while fasting, it needs to have a few calories to ensure it doesn’t spike your insulin levels, which will break a fast. The amount of calories in pre-workout will differ from product to product because they each use different ingredients.

Another aspect that determines how many calories are in a supplement is the serving size. Some servings contain as little as 5 to 10 calories, while others could have up to 200 calories.

Are pre-workouts good for you when fasting?

Pre-workouts can elevate not only your exercise performance but can really be beneficial for anyone who is fasting, as there are many pre-workout supplements that will not break a fast. Here are some of the benefits of using pre-workout supplements.

  • Increased energy and focus
  • Reduced muscle soreness
  • Improved athletic performance
  • Increased fat burning
  • Reduced cravings and hunger
  • Improved mood

What can you use instead of pre-workout for intermittent fasting?

For those who are fasting but prefer to avoid pre-workouts, the good news is that there are alternatives to help you keep your energy levels up to help you power through your workouts.

Coffee contains a natural stimulant that helps you boost your energy levels and improve your focus, and a cup before a workout can improve endurance. You need to be aware of coffee’s less favourable effects – it has a strong effect on your bowel movements and can cause discomfort.

Green tea or matcha also contains caffeine and L-theanine, which gives you a wonderful combination of increased energy and amplified focus, and there are no side effects of the dreaded crash or jitters. An extra bonus is that it can also enhance weight loss.

Final Thoughts

Taking a pre-workout can make all the difference when you’re fasting, and most of them are entirely safe and have no risk of you breaking your fast. So, you get all the energy to smash your workouts, reach your fitness goals and lose weight by adding zero calories. Go ahead and take your pre-workouts, but don’t forget to check the ingredients.

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